With the MLB Winter Meetings set to begin in a few days, people keep asking the question, “Will the Houston Astros make a big trade or free agent signing?”
So far this offseason, the Astros traded for Aledmys Diaz and signed veteran catcher, Robinson Chirinos. The versatility of Diaz will help to fill the void of Marwin Gonzalez assuming Gonzalez doesn’t return to Houston and the signing of Chirinos adds a veteran presence behind the plate for a relatively cheap price.
Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton are free agents with Keuchel unlikely to resign and Morton up in the air, the starting rotation has a few holes to fill. And let’s not forget, Lance McCullers Jr. had Tommy John surgery. So what’s next for the Astros this offseason?
Some of the biggest names this offseason have already been taken off the board. Paul Goldschmidt was traded to the Cardinals, Patrick Corbin signed with the Nationals and Nathan Eovaldi has agreed to re-sign with the Red Sox. If Houston is going to make a move, they’re starting to run out of potential candidates. Let’s take a look at a few that could make a difference:
Bryce Harper: Obviously, signing Harper will take a substantial amount of money but the Astros have the money to make it happen it’s just a matter of will they actually take the plunge and make it rain to sign him. There was also the trade agreement between the Astros and Nationals that was ultimately nixed by the Nationals ownership back in July which led to another report several days ago about “Harper’s affection for the Houston Astros is well-known…”. It makes you wonder, does Bryce Harper really want to be an Astro? Adding his bat would make for a scary lineup especially with protection all around him. Harper is 26 years old and bringing him to this club house would elevate his game even more. He could come to Houston with a developed core of players and not have to worry about being “the guy”. In my opinion, I think the Astros should go all-in on signing Bryce Harper.
Corey Kluber: There’s no argument that Kluber is one of the best starting pitchers in the MLB today. He’s 32 and over the past five seasons he’s compiled an 83-45 record with a 2.85 ERA. His WHIP stands at 1.02 along with averaging 246 strikeouts and a nice workload of 218 innings per year. Kluber has three years and $52.5 million left on his current contract with club options in 2020 and 2021. That basically means he’s an inexpensive trade move for a team not looking to spend major money or commitment. In order to acquire Kluber, Houston would have to give up a few prospects but with the front office not budging on Forrest Whitley, is Kyle Tucker tradeable? Just imagine a starting rotation of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber. I’d include Tucker in a trade for that.
J.T. Realmuto: Yes, I know the Astros just signed Robinson Chirinos but trading for Realmuto would be a phenomenal addition. He’s 27 and coming off a 2018 season of hitting .277 with 21 bombs and an OBP of .340. The dude can flat out hit, something the Astros don’t usually have out of their catchers. The asking price for Realmuto is high, though. Houston has already been in talks with the Marlins for a potential trade but Miami wants either Tucker or Whitley included in the deal. Whitley is a hard no but I would be intrigued to offer Tucker and Corbin Martin into the deal. The Winter Meetings are in Las Vegas this year and anything can happen in Sin City.
Those three are the top candidates for Houston in my opinion, but here are some dark horses to watch out for:
Carlos Carrasco RHP Cleveland Indians
Michael Brantley OF Free Agent
AJ Pollock OF Free Agent
JA Happ LHP Free Agent
Nelson Cruz DH Free Agent
The Houston Astros need to make a few moves this offseason to bolster their pitching staff and add a big bat. With the Winter Meetings right around the corner, we’ll see if the moves begin to fall.